INDOOR S’MORES BARS

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Happy St Patrick’s Day. I hope you are enjoying the holiday of green. Today however, I’m sharing something completely unrelated to St Patrick’s Day. I decided today to share something for your sweet-tooth and something I love. A few weeks ago we were feeling the winter blues and felt like we never left the house. As part of a family date night I made an ‘indoor camp’ for our family. We pumped up the air mattress in the living room and watched Jurassic Park while eating these indoor s’mores bars. It was a great night and a great treat, so I decided to share the recipe with you. I just made it up as I went, I know some other recipes use karo syrup but I was just trying to keep it as simple as possible! Enjoy!

They are delicious! I am not a typically a s’mores person unless I’m desperate on a camp out because to be honest the marshmallow is my least favorite part. However these Indoor S’mores Bars should come with a warning label because even in trying to be careful within two days the pan was gone.    

Yield: 12 servings (3″ x 3″)

Time:  10 minutes, allow time to cool before serving

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 c Golden Grahams Cereal
  • 10 oz bag mini marshmallows, divided
  • 1 1/2 c chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/2  T butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

  • Step 1

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl combine Golden Grahams cereal, 3/4 c mini marshmallows and 3/4 c chocolate chips. Set aside.  


In a large pot melt butter and remaining mini marshmallows over medium high heat. Add vanilla and stir. Allow mixture to sit for 30 seconds to 1 minutes before pouring over cereal mixture. Combine the melted marshmallows with the cereal mixture stirring as little as possible. You want to mix everything but don’t want to mix it so much everything melts completely. Transfer the Indoor S’mores Bars to the greased pan, as you do so add the remaining 3/4 c chocolate chips and gently pat into place. Allow the bars to cool before serving.    

We seriously ate these Indoor S’mores Bars so fast. They are so good! Way better than a s’more over a campfire.  

Be sure to hide yourself a bar for a late night snack before sharing with your family. You’ll go back for seconds, and there won’t be any left.    

Enjoy,

Larisa

OLIVE GARDEN INSPIRED ZUPPA TOSCANA SOUP

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Happy mid march friends! I don’t know about you, but I love spring and I love the changes in the air. My allergies are already kicking in and the trees aren’t even in bloom yet. This week is St Patrick’s Day as many of you know. I’m working to better celebrate the holidays and I’ve been struggling with something to cook that is Irish inspired. Last year I made Irish Soda Bread and growing up my mom would always make us a green dinner. When I asked my husband if he had any ideas he said potatoes. Well if you aren’t prepped with corned beef and cabbage and are cramming last minute like me, maybe an Italian dish such as Zuppa Toscana Soup can be justified to be eaten on an Irish holiday-because it has potatoes. If I don’t make green eggs and ham or something like that we may be eating this soup again. On the bright side it is delicious and I’ve got to cram as much soup as I can into these cooler months before it warms up.  

I originally made this soup back in my college days when I was cooking my way around the world making dishes from other countries, like this Moroccan dish. I remember that I added so much red pepper to the already spicy Italian sausage that man it was a killer hot soup. This time I toned it down and after asking my mom how she made hers, and looking at a few ideas that were online I came up with a combination that my family enjoyed. I quickly snapped a couple of pictures from my phone and so if my poor lighting turns you away from the soup (I almost didn’t post it just for that reason), give it a chance and try this. Its a hearty soup that will warm your soul.  

At our house Zuppa Toscana has affectionately been called  ‘Butter Soup’ because of the shine of the soup (however, there is no butter in the soup). Zuppa Toscana may not be the healthiest of my recipes but my once a year indulgence is something I look forward to each year. It is inspired by Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, so if you want to feel like you are having takeout in your own home make a fresh batch of bread sticks and enjoy. I’ve tried to make this soup slightly healthy and add less sausage and bacon than most people and load up on the potatoes and kale. I absolutely love kale in this soup and suggest that whether you are a kale person or not you give it a try. I even tend to add more than is called for.  I love it so much.    

Yield: 6 servings

Time:  30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1  onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c pre-cooked bacon bits
  • 4 c chicken broth
  • 4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 c half and half
  • 2 c chopped kale
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Step 1

In a large pot brown spicy Italian sausage. While sausage is cooking chop the onions, mince the garlic, and wash and cut the potatoes into 1/4″ slices. If you are using Yukon gold potoates I leave the skin on, however if you are doing traditional russets I would consider peeling the potatoes before you slice them. Once sausage is cooked remove it from the pan set aside and allow the grease to drain from the sausage.  


Add olive oil and onion to the pan and saute until onion is translucent (about 3 minutes), add minced garlic and bacon bits. Saute 1 minute more. Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Once mixture has come to a boil add the potato slices and cook until potatoes are tender (about 10-15 minutes).  

Return sausage to the pan, add half and half, chopped kale, and salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture simmer another 3 minutes. Serve warm.  

Enjoy this delicious Olive Garden inspired Zuppa Toscana Soup and let me know what you think! 

Enjoy,

Larisa

HAYASHI CHICKEN

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Last week I shared my favorite vegetable dish in the world. Oven roasted broccoli. I decided today to share the main course that went along with that delicious side. Hayashi Chicken is a recipe that I’ve adapted from my mom, who got it from a neighbor, who got it from someone with the last name Hayashi. The name has stuck as the recipe has been moved around. I love this simple easy dish. It will curb your craving for some Japanese food, and your family will love it too.  

Hayashi Chicken is great to marinade for anywhere from a few minutes to hours. Lets be honest, most the time I skip the marinading and it still turns out great! I like to chop my chicken and serve it over rice but you can easily cook whole chicken breasts to be served on their own. 

Yield: 4 servings

Time:  30-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 1/3 c soy sauce
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/1 tsp ginger powder, or 1/2 T fresh
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder, or 2 cloves fresh
  • 2-3 T rice vinegar
  • 1/2 c water
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare chicken. I like to chop mine into large chunks but you can just serve it as  large individual breasts. Combine all ingredients. You can choose to let it marinade or proceed to cooking. If you are doing whole breasts I would let it marinade for a little bit before cooking.  


Bake for about 30 minutes in a dutch oven or covered pan (you’ll have a longer cooking time if doing whole breasts). Prepare rice and sides while chicken cooks. Serve chicken and sauce over warm rice. Enjoy!  

Again try pairing this Hayashi Chicken with the also easy oven roasted broccoli. Since the broccoli cooks at a higher temperature just keep an eye on your chicken. .  

Let me know what you serve your Hayashi Chicken with!  

Enjoy,

Larisa

EASY 10 MINUTE ST PATRICK’S DAY GARLAND

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Happy March! I can’t believe St Patrick’s Day is already next week. I decided to continue my holiday garland making that I began with my Valentines Day Garland. This was seriously the easiest decorating I have ever done. I’m usually not a good holiday decorator but since we have a little guy now I have wanted to start a few more traditions and decorate a little. This garland is super cheap to make and seriously takes less than 10 minutes. This time I bought my shamrocks from the dollar store in a $1 package that included 6 glitter and 6 green soft foam shamrocks. Dollar store for the win!    

This DIY garland costs less than a dollar and literally takes like 10 minutes to make. Its about 5 1/2 feet long with 7 shamrocks but you can make yours to fit your needs or wants. It would look great on the wall, over a door way, or on a book shelf too. I decided to hang one over a doorway too because I had extra shamrocks.  

Time:  10 minutes

MATERIALS:

  • 5-6 ft of bakers twine or string
  • 1 package shamrocks (or 1-2 pieces felt)
  • hot glue gun (tape or thread works too)
  • piece of paper to make your stencil (not needed if you bought shamrocks like I did)
  • scissors and sharpie marker

DIRECTIONS:

  • Step 1

Gather the materials needed and decide how long you want your garland. I chose to make mine about 5 1/2 feet long with 7 shamrocks evenly spaced.    

This step can be skipped if you bought packaged shamrocks like I did. If you bought felt make your stencil using a piece of paper. Trace your stencil onto the felt using a sharpie. Cut out your shamrocks, cutting away all of the sharpie so you aren’t left with a line.   

  • Step 2

This step has a few options. You can use a hot glue gun, tape, or sew your hearts in place. I chose to sew mine last time but this time I went the easy route and used the hot glue gun.

Begin by finding the center of your string. If you have an odd number of hearts place the one of the shamrocks in the center here. I attached each shamrock so there was about 6″ of string between the edges of the shamrocks. Continue to evenly space your shamrocks until you are done. 

 I love how this turned out, probably even more than the hearts.

Let me know what you do for St Patrick’s Day. I’m in need of a few more traditions around here!  

Enjoy,

Larisa

OVEN ROASTED BROCCOLI

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In case you have missed it, I’m actually on a blogging role. Meaning this is my second post this week. Hooray! Earlier I shared a favorite White Chicken Chili recipe and today I’m going to share one of my all time FAVORITE side dishes. OVEN ROASTED BROCCOLI. You may role your nose at the thought or smell of broccoli. You may have thoughts of mushy brownish school lunch broccoli, or you may have thoughts of your childhood eating ‘trees’ and ‘stumps’ like I do. Whatever your thoughts and feelings on broccoli are, this oven roasted broccoli dish can change your mind and make you a broc-liever.     

Now I don’t want to set your expectations too high, but really I think you can expect something good from this. This dish is my favorite! I can eat it like candy. And if you know me, you know I have the biggest sweet tooth. This stuff is like gold. I seriously love it. I also love that it is quick and easy to make and oh so good! My husband and I can polish off a pound of oven roasted broccoli if left unattended. It is seriously so good. Okay enough said, let me show you how easy it is to make! 

Yield: 4 servings

Time:  20-25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb broccoli
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • additional garnishments
    • shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  • Step 1

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry broccoli. Chop into individual florets. I like to cut mine long and skinny so I don’t have to try and figure out what to do with the broccoli stems. Place broccoli, olive oil, and garlic in a large bowl and mix until combined. Pour broccoli onto a large cookie sheet (you can line it with parchment or paper for easier clean up). Spread broccoli into a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.     


Bake for about 20 minutes or until broccoli is crisp tender, stirring every 5-7 minutes. You may need to adjust the cooking time to less if your pan is more skillet like – like I used, or you may need to cook longer if its a regular aluminum pan. You can also garnish cooked broccoli with shredded Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. 

If you are looking to pair your oven roasted broccoli with a delicious meal try my new recipe for Hayashi Chicken.  

This quick and easy oven roasted broccoli made me a vegetable lover and it can make you one too. It pairs great with so many sides, and I hate to admit that its so good I could eat it on its own too. Let me know what you serve your oven roasted broccoli with!  

Enjoy,

Larisa